Seattle readies for WTO anniversary : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Posted at 8:52 p.m. PST Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Seattle readies for WTO anniversary By Gene Johnson ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER


SEATTLE (AP) -- Vandals attacked nine Starbucks Coffee Co. stores, putting the city on edge as it prepared for the anniversary Thursday of last year's riotous World Trade Organization protests.

The stores, among dozens throughout the city, sustained minor damage late Tuesday or early Wednesday, including broken windows, glue in locks, and walls spray-painted with an encircled ``A,'' a graffiti tag used by anarchists during WTO demonstrations last year.

Even though it is only an anniversary and there are no WTO meetings in the city this year, Starbucks will be taking extra security measures, said Dave Owen, a senior vice president at the Seattle-based chain. A spokesman refused to elaborate.

Mayor Paul Schell urged television news stations to broadcast as little of last year's events as possible. ``We believe the constant repetition of those images simply builds up any tension that might arise this year,'' said Schell spokesman Dick Lilly.

Authorities have been anxious to avoid a repeat of last year, when 50,000 protesters crammed into downtown and shut down some sessions of the WTO meeting.

Overwhelmed Seattle police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and closed off much of downtown. The riots resulted in 600 arrests, $3 million in property damage, numerous civil-rights lawsuits and the police chief's sudden early retirement.

The WTO, a trade alliance of about 140 countries, has become a target for a wide range of activists who believe it represents corporate globalization and short shrift for the environment and workers.

Police have asked demonstrators not to protest on the anniversary of the 1999 talks because they may disrupt shoppers.

Jean Buskin, a 52-year-old Seattle biochemist coordinating anniversary protests, said the vandalism was a shame because Starbucks has been receptive to activists' arguments. She said she expected no violence during demonstrations Thursday.

Some environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Seattle Audubon Society and the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, said they don't plan to protest this year.

Helen Ross, conservation coordinator for Seattle Audubon, said her group is focusing instead on working with individual companies to persuade them to offer environmentally friendly goods.

``WTO is certainly still a threat to conservation efforts,'' Ross said. ``But our focus has shifted because a lot of their discussions have stalled.''

-- Martin Thompson (, November 30, 2000


Wednesday, November 29, 2000, 07:45 p.m. Pacific

Vandalism, threats arrive day before demonstrators

by Nick Provenza and John de Leon Seattle Times assistant metro editors The Seattle Times The Starbucks on the corner of SW Admiral Way and 41 Ave. SW has plywood covering a window broken during the night. Several Starbucks sustained damage Tuesday night on the eve of the WTO anniversary. Seattle officials say they are ready for whatever comes Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the World Trade Organization riots, despite e- mail death threats at city hall and vandalism at nine Starbucks coffee shops Wednesday.

Sidestepping questions on just what police will do if those gathered to mark the occasion threaten the safety of others or break the law, Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske Wednesday said his department is prepared for the worst. He said he planned to be on the streets Thursday. Gil Kerlikowske "But it's difficult planning for a non-event," the chief said. "This is a non-event."

Activists - no one is sure how many - are expected to gather in downtown Seattle Thursday for what protesters, police and city officials call "N30," the one-year anniversary of the civil unrest that accompanied the World Trade Organization annual meeting last Nov. 30.

The main rallies and demonstrations are expected to get under way around noon in Westlake Plaza and continue through the afternoon, although one gathering is scheduled for Victor Steinbrueck Park north of the Pike Place Market from 7 to 10 a.m.

Kerlikowske, speaking to media representatives at a gathering of city officials and police brass, said additional security efforts are being made to protect police officers, the mayor or other city officials after a group calling itself "General Strike" sent threats to City Hall.

The e-mails, he said, threatened police officers and city officials, none by name, saying they would pay the "ultimate penalty."

No one from General Strike could be found for comment on the e-mailed death threats.

Kerlikowske said e-mails to the city have ranged from the death threats to messages from people who simply want to sit around eating organic apples from Eastern Washington. The planned noon event in Westlake Plaza was billed by organizers as a "Global Potluck," featuring a "giant cake" to be delivered to Mayor Paul Schell and Port Commissioner Pat Davis, as well as "1,000 NO WTO cookies" and a ton of organic apples picked by migrant workers.

Deputy Mayor Maud Daudon said that if authorities deem the cake- delivery event safe, Mayor Paul Schell would consider accepting it.

Another scheduled event is an "International Solidarity Day Against Corporate Globalization" in which students are being asked to participate in a worker walkout and street party at 12:34 p.m. at Seattle Central Community College, followed by a march to Westlake at 4 p.m. Another march to Westlake Plaza is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at Fourth Avenue and Jackson Street.

As a precautionary move, Seattle Schools Superintendent Joseph Olchefske recommended to school principals this week that they cancel any downtown field trips during the WTO anniversary, and at least one school did cancel a field trip to a theater.

Last year, 50,000 protesters filled downtown, many clashing with an unprepared police force over several days. Some 600 protesters were arrested, and property damage reached as high as $2.5 million. Seattle police were criticized for their handling of the protests.

Among the businesses hit in 1999 was the Starbucks at 600 Stewart St., which suffered $10,200 in damage.

Anarchist symbol on wall

But police said Wednesday that there was no indication the vandalism at nine Starbucks shops yesterday - mostly broken windows and graffiti - was related to anti-corporate sentiment shown during the 1999 riots.

However, graffiti found outside one Starbucks included an "A" inside a circle, a symbol of anarchists who were responsible for thousands of dollars in damage during last year's riots.

"It might be (related to WTO) because of the number of stores that got hit,'' said Delmar Sherrell, manager of the Starbucks at 2921 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, where a window was broken by a bolt.

Police said the damage was relatively minor. All of the stores remained open for business Wednesday.

Dave Olsen, Starbucks' senior vice president for corporate social responsibility, said no threats were called in to Starbucks related to WTO and no one had contacted the company yesterday claiming responsibility for the vandalism.

Vandalism isn't uncommon for at least one of the Starbucks stores hit Wednesday. Jeff Dobson, a barrista at the Starbucks at 121 Lakeside, said windows were broken at least three different times in recent months, including on Halloween.

"We're getting pretty good at replacing these windows," he said.

In the past, Starbucks has drawn criticism from human-rights groups for not buying so-called Fair Trade coffee, grown on small farms that sell through cooperatives for at least $1.26 a pound. Starbucks says it has taken steps to buy more Fair Trade coffee, and the company funds schools and health clinics for coffee workers.

Police planning

Acknowledging that Seattle police were "tested beyond belief" last year, Kerlikowske said the department has been planning for this week for months.

Last year, a dozen or more self-proclaimed anarchists were blamed for the worst property damage during the WTO protests. Kerlikowske said police know that some anarchists are already in town but didn't provide details.

City officials say they don't know how many people will gather today, although the figure 5,000 has been suggested. The chief said he has no doubt that a small group of people is bent on provoking confrontations. While police won't accept that, he said, he again stopped short of saying what police will do.

He said there will be enough officers and gear to handle whatever happens but he did not expect police would have to resort to using rubber bullets, beanbag guns or pepper spray to deal with any of it, as happened last year.

Police will monitor marches but will not interfere if they are peaceful. Ten to 25 people gathering in a park will be allowed, as long as no one breaks the law or threatens anyone's safety, he said.

Asked what police will do if someone threatens someone or breaks the law, Kerlikowske said he's leaving that decision to the commanders in the field Deputy Mayor Daudon said police won't provoke confrontations, but unlawful behavior or threats to anyone's safety will be dealt with "swiftly and immediately." bin/WebObjects/SeattleTimes.woa/wa/gotoArticle? zsection_id=268466359&text_only=0&slug=cops30m&document_id=134250480

-- Martin Thompson (, November 30, 2000.

11/29/00- Updated 10:49 PM ET

Activists remember 'Battle of Seattle' By Patrick McMahon, USA TODAY

Eric Draper, AP

SEATTLE Street battles against corporate globalization have moved on to places like Washington, D.C., Prague, Bangkok and Philadelphia. But the spirit of Seattle lives on. Several thousand protesters here are expected to celebrate, educate, agitate and perhaps get arrested Thursday, a year after 50,000 activists briefly shut down a World Trade Organization summit, shook the city from smugness and prompted the arrest of 600.

''We're going to mobilize hundreds of informed agitators and globalization resisters,'' predicts activist Dale Hodges, 48, a Seattle tofu salesman. ''We're out to celebrate what happened here and to remind people what happened here.''

While organizers say no violence is planned, the Seattle Police Department has taken extraordinary steps to avoid a repeat of last year's nationally televised vandalism and street battles with police in riot gear.

''We're as ready as any department could be,'' says Gil Kerlikowske, a tough-talking former U.S. Justice Department official brought in as police chief this year following Chief Norm Stamper's early retirement after the WTO fiasco.

Seattle became the focal point of protest against multinational trade organizations last year when it hosted the meeting of trade ministers. WTO and U.S. officials maintained that only through free and open international trade would living standards improve worldwide.

But protesters blasted WTO and other organizations as unaccountable agencies that usurp local sovereignty, give multinational corporations unbridled power and erode environmental and labor protections. ''Seattle was by no means the birthplace of the struggle against corporate globalization, but it sent a huge message to the rest of the world that there is support in (the) belly of the beast,'' activist Han Shan says.

Shan is program director of the Ruckus Society, the Berkeley, Calif., group that trains activists for civil disobedience. He is one of the few out-of-state activists returning for Thursday's events. ''Mostly, I just want to see old friends,'' he says.

Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund lawyer Patti Goldman of Seattle, whose trade expertise and WTO critiques made her a celebrity a year ago, said, ''I'm starting to sense growing excitement in the city. People are getting out their No WTO buttons.''

Events Thursday include a potluck vegan barbecue at noon at Westlake Plaza downtown. A student walkout at Seattle Community College is set for 12:30 p.m., followed by a street rally and marches downtown to Westlake Park.

On Friday, activists plan a mass filing of financial claims against the city stemming from last year's arrests. But it remains an open question whether violence will overtake events Thursday and whether tear gas will once again waft through downtown.

City officials are taking a stern tone that demonstrators risk arrest if they act without city permits, block traffic, interfere with downtown business or spawn any violence.

Cautious downtown merchants, still mindful of several millions of dollars in property damage downtown last year, are decorated for holiday shopping and expect to remain open some with extra security. ''We fully support the right of free and public expression,'' says Mayor Paul Schell, politically wounded by last year's events. But, ''we will swiftly respond to law-breaking or vandalism or violence of any kind.''

Still worrying officials here is whether there will be a reappearance of anarchists who are blamed for turning last year's events violent. ''Make no mistake,'' City Council member Jim Compton warned. ''There are people trying to pick a fight with the city. If they stick their chin out and say 'hit here,' we should find them a warm bed in the county jail.''

While there were no major injuries a year ago, the tumult was a blow to Seattle, which considers itself a laid-back, tolerant city unaccustomed to the chaos and neighborhood disruptions of a year ago. Police felt hamstrung by city directives that prevented early arrests, and activists felt police overreacted with the use of tear gas and rubber bullets.

''Do people still have hurt feelings on both sides? You bet. People really do,'' says police Capt. Jim Pugel, who oversees the downtown police. ''But we've learned a tremendous amount.''

The city police chief retired early. The political viability of Mayor Schell up for re-election in 2001 remains debatable. Criminal cases against most protesters have long ago been dismissed. And the message from City Hall to protesters is: We're ready for you.

Don't look for police in riot gear, at least at first. Don't look for no-protest zones. ''The message is that you have to protect lives, protect property and you have to protect people's right to protest,'' Chief Kerlikowske says.

-- Martin Thompson (, November 30, 2000.

-- spider (, November 30, 2000.

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